The Guest (2014)
Directed by Adam Wingard
Starring: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Leland Orser, Sheila Kelley, Brendan Meyer, Lance Reddick
Running time: 100 minutes
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.
I watched this a couple of months ago & I’m still trying to decide if I really liked it or not. I’ve seen so many positive reviews for it here on WordPress but I’m kind of surprised as this movie is such an odd mix of genres that I would think opinion would be more divided. I do think it’s a total “movie blogger” type of movie – stylish & unique but too odd to be popular with a mainstream audience. I wouldn’t be able to mention this movie to co-workers and find anyone who likes it let alone anyone who has even heard of it. Which is a good thing! That’s a big part of the reason why I started this blog – I love discussing these sorts of films with like-minded movie lovers who’ve watched all kinds of weird & wonderful films. I still get strange looks from co-workers when they see the Totoro wallpaper on my computer & they ask me “what’s that cartoon??”.
I can see why this keeps getting compared to the movie Drive. It’s “cool”. It has an interesting visual style, soundtrack, and lots of violence. Even its star, Dan Stevens, has a Ryan Gosling way and look about him. I like Drive and have to say it’s the much better film of these two but my opinion on Drive has gone down slightly since I first saw it. I love the soundtrack and its style is great (that jacket rules!) but all style & no substance isn’t going to make for a movie I’ll love as an all-time favorite. I think where The Guest fails most in comparison to Drive, though, is with Dan Stevens (I’m going to get in so much trouble with other female bloggers for that statement!). I’ve kind of gone off Gosling but I did love him for a while. I have to say he has that certain something, though, that only some actors can achieve. There’s an extra something there – a distant calmness that makes you think his character has all kinds of deep thoughts going on in his head when all he’s doing is just sitting there & staring (I admit that Gosling “stares” too often! Lol). Dan Stevens has a sexy sort of thing going on, I suppose (not my type), but he doesn’t have that special something to make this film even better in the way I think Gosling did perfectly with Drive. I think Drive is a good film but Gosling helped make it so.
This is from the same director as You’re Next (Adam Wingard). I wasn’t a huge fan of that one as I felt, like this one, it didn’t have much substance. There wasn’t much of a plot to You’re Next – it was just an excuse to watch a lot of gory violence (however, I did like the main female character). The Guest has a plot but it’s pretty damn silly & laughable by the end. I think I know what it is about these two movies… It feels like the characters were thought up first with a vague idea of a story, then some interesting deaths, then the story was written to fit around all that. It kind of feels like, if this movie wasn’t so “cool & hip” with a young, attractive cast (ha! does anyone say “hip” anymore?!), people would be laughing at it instead of raving over it. If this had been made in the 80s, you youngsters would all hate it! You know it!! (And I’d probably love it…) 😉
Now that I’ve made it sound like I really hated this, I have to say there are some things that I did really like about it. First of all, I think Wingard has taken a step in the right direction with this movie. I think it’s much better than You’re Next and will have earned him a fan base that will be eager to see his next film. It’s a very unique movie, which I’ll never complain about as I watch a lot of movies and get very bored with the mainstream at times. I like when a movie really surprises me and appreciate it when one does something a bit “different”.
Also, as with You’re Next, we have a strong female character I liked (Maika Monroe’s Anna Peterson). I thought Monroe was pretty great in It Follows and I think she’s the real star of this one as well. (I have to say It Follows is fantastic, though, and does a unique twist on the horror genre so much better than The Guest does with the thriller/action/whatever-the-hell-genre-it-is genre. watch It Follows first!). Can I just say it’s nice to get female characters who aren’t sluts, bitches, or idiots?? We seem to be getting that more often lately. Thank you, Hollywood! I hope Monroe continues doing characters similar to these (and hooray for the clothes staying on in both films!).
Finally, I really liked the end. Or… the “final confrontation”, shall we say (to avoid spoilers). I liked the setting & the look and this is where I most appreciated this film’s style. Don’t get me wrong – a film’s style is very important to me and I’m a total sucker for ones that look great. This is why I like things like Daft Punk’s Electroma even though people give me weird looks for liking stuff like that. I can understand why people have gone for this movie even if it didn’t totally work for me in the same way. There are some strong characters and good, memorable scenes which is more than can be said for a lot of mainstream blockbusters.
I think I appreciated The Guest more than I actually liked it. I wouldn’t say no to watching another Adam Wingard film after this one and hope he continues to go more in this strange thriller sort of direction instead of continuing with the gory slasher genre. This movie has some good moments and I really did want to like it more than I did. I do think it’s one that’s definitely worth checking out if you’re at all curious about it and I think I can understand why a lot of people love it.
My Rating: 7/10